Journalist Bulbul out on bail and hospitalized due to declining health

MOGADISHU, Somalia 9 October, 2023 – The Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) expresses grave concern regarding the persistent harassment and intimidation directed at our Secretary of Information and Human Rights, Mohamed Ibrahim Bulbul, who was urgently hospitalized on Saturday afternoon due to a deterioration in his health while in incommunicado and unlawful detention.

On Saturday afternoon 7 October, 2023, the Banadir Regional Court judge granted Bulbul release on bail while informing defense lawyers that the case would be heard on Wednesday, 11 October 2023. Subsequently, Bulbul was immediately transferred to the hospital, where he is currently undergoing treatment.

Bulbul was unlawfully detained and tortured on 17 August, one day after his reporting on corruption allegations against the Somali police involved in European Union’s EUCAP-supported training. The report was published by Kaab TV where our colleague is an editor. Since then, our colleague Bulbul has been held incommunicado at the police criminal investigations department and the Hamar Jajab police station until his transfer to Mogadishu Central Prison on 28 September.

On 25 September, the Banadir Regional Court dismissed the seven charges filed by the Office of the Attorney General, asserting that journalism is not a crimine and that Bulbul could not be charged under the outdated penal code.

“While we are relieved that our colleague Mohamed Bulbul has been granted bail since Saturday afternoon, we remain deeply concerned about his health, as he fell ill during his detention, and medical professionals are now recommending an extended stay in the hospital to address serious infections. Bulbul endured torture upon his arrest and was held incommunicado for over 52 days. He was deprived of family visits and denied access to adequate food and water,” said SJS Secretary General, Abdalle Ahmed Mumin. “We express our gratitude to all supporters, including Amnesty International, for their urgent action in demanding Bulbul’s immediate release, targeting the Somali Attorney General, Sulayman Mohamoud, and Police Commissioner Sulub Ahmed Firin.”

Our defense lawyers will return to court on Wednesday for the upcoming hearing of the case. We call upon all press freedom and human rights advocates and interested bodies to continue in their efforts to apply pressure and denounce all forms of violence and threats against our colleague Bulbul and all other journalists currently oppressed due to their critical reporting.

“Threats and attacks against journalists perpetrated by senior government officials including those sitting in the Ministry of Information will only exacerbate the challenging conditions in which journalists and media outlets operate. I know the gravity of threats against journalists, as I have personally encountered such threats myself. An attack on one journalist represents an attack on all of us, and we must not remain silent,” Mr. Mumin added.

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